I Don’t Have to Listen to You!

The words every parent dreads hearing.

“I don’t think your son would fit at our school.”

Even more fun is when they blindside you.

The Tackler participated in a Mock School Day at one of the locations we’re considering for kindergarten. I dropped him off, smiling at his enthusiasm at the classroom, the joy in his voice.

Even if it was a little loud with excitement.

I picked him up three hours later in a line of other parents. Each child was waved off and all I managed to ask was, “Did he have fun today?”

“Oh yes!” the teacher said with a laugh.

At the time I considered it good news, and when I questioned my son, all I heard about was the fun and another child who got into trouble.

Thank goodness it wasn’t my child… today.

Four days later, the Tackler was enjoying his first day of a summer preschool, when the phone call came from the administrator of the potential kindergarten. She informed me—in more tactful fashion—hell would likely freeze over before they’d accept a child with his behavior.

“What happened?” I asked, stunned I was just now hearing about the issues.

She explained how he’d been loud and wild, but most importantly, he’d flat out refused to listen to the teacher by saying, “I don’t have to listen to you. You aren’t my mother.”

As though he follows each of my requests with instant obedience and a smile. HA!

My son's face says it all.

The look as he hugs his teacher good-bye says it all.

Still, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Yes, he’s had difficulties in school before, but nothing like this. At least, nothing any school has admitted to. Whether sugar coated or waived off or misunderstood on my part, I had no idea he would act such a way in a place he left saying, “Mommy, I want to go there for kindergarten.”

Then a few hours later, when my husband picked up The Tackler from his first day of summer preschool, we were told a similar story. Once again, he thought he didn’t have to listen to a teacher.

To his very sharp mind, he’d suffered no ramifications at home from his behavior the previous week, thanks to the delay in hearing about it.

And when he was picked up, he heard about it. A lot.

Enter: Mommy Hard Ass (which sadly doesn’t refer to the state of my posterior).

The warnings of the past are gone. Now it is an instant time-out for everything, from back-talk, to snatching toys, to invading personal space. If he fails to comply, more time is added on until he does.

It sucks.

I hate it.

Thursday at summer preschool went much better, with only two smaller issues: playground disappointment when no one wanted to play his game, and invading personal space (because his sister usually welcomes it and finds it hilarious, so naturally all others should as well).

Once again, I am wishing a boot camp existed for his age.

The Tackler’s behavior has brought forth a flood of memories from my childhood and highlighted an important fact:

He is me (with a good dose of my husband tossed in there).

I hate losing. The window in my past opens to many situations where I was unable to contain my disappointment at losing—many after I was already an adult.

I’m still working on it.

I hate, hate, taking orders. I could never join the military. Ever. I trained my parents in 4th grade to never tell me to do my homework, or I refused to do it (contingent on me receiving good grades). Meanwhile, I watched as they told my sister, “You can’t do this until you finish your homework,” all the way through high school.

I argued with my parents. I never understood as a child why I shouldn’t, other than “because they said so”. After all, I had an opinion too.

Yes, I was THAT child.

But I always knew there was a line not to be crossed with others, whether a teacher, or a friend’s parent. I saved 99% of my disobedient behavior for my oh-so-lucky parents.

The Tackler? Not so much. He makes each person earn his respect, then fight to keep it. At karate, he doesn’t even think about saying “no!” or ignoring a request.

It makes me wish karate instructors taught kindergarten. And preschool. Pretty much everything, really.

Seriously, mom?

“Someday I won’t have to listen to you.”

I’m sure as my mother reads this, she is cackling at her wish coming true: for me to give birth to a child just like… me (let’s not even get started on characteristics Lil Diva inherited).

Maybe that’s why I haven’t brought myself to be Hard Ass Mommy before—I recognize far too much of myself in The Tackler. I “get” hating being told what to do. I remember stating to my parents, “One day I’ll be bigger, and you won’t tell me what to do anymore. I can do whatever I want.”

My son’s version is more of, “One day I’ll be bigger and have kids. And they will have to do what I say.”

Unless of course, he has a child just like himself.

Then it’s payback.


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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12 Responses to I Don’t Have to Listen to You!

  1. Annie says:

    I’m surprised they make a decision about a kid after just a few hours observation.

    • They do understand “off” days, and said he is welcome to attend the other Mock School Day in July (which we have a conflict with), but unless he is suddenly a paragon of virtue and we have broken the bad habits via Mommy (and Daddy) Hard Ass, my guess is the problems would immediately surface early in the school year.

      They have a point. They move through curriculum very fast in the school and if you have to tell a child to do something 20 times, it slows everyone down. My hope was if he kept busy, he would be too occupied to act out, which is a certainty when bored.

      I think it will be at least a year before he is emotionally mature enough to handle that particular school. Unless this summer changes dramatically.

      Sadly, “holding him back” is not an option either, or the risk of classroom boredom will sky rocket and bring on the crazy man behavior.


      • Annie says:

        I see your frustration. 😦 It’s hard when maturity and intelligence are not in sync. Whatever happens, you’ll do the very best for him. 🙂 Raising kids is tough stuff!

  2. Kerry says:

    I understand completely how you’re feeling right now. Believe me.

  3. Oh boy, good luck with this. I have 3 and 2 of the three are way too much like me, so I can relate.

  4. kristina says:

    I’m sorry. Parenting needs more unicorns and warm chocolate chip cookies that do make our asses hard.

    • Make them oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and you have a deal.

      I’m not quite sure how a unicorn would improve the state of my butt, however. Unless it was chasing you like the bulls in Spain…

      Sympathetic ear appreciated.

  5. Amanda says:

    I had forgotten how argumentative I was until recently…when my oldest has started arguing about everything. She just has an opinion. But oh. my. gosh!!! Knowing I was similar helps me keep her heart is perspective …but does nothing for my irritation with it! 🙂

  6. Oh Kelly! I am so sorry you are having to have boot camp at your house this summer. What a bummer! But he will be better for it in the long run – and so will your relationship with him. It is a hard balance between nurturing their creativity and independence with following rules and fitting in with our peers/society. Good luck, my friend. Just know that you are doing a great job.

  7. Pingback: Teaching Kindergartners to “Blame the Victim” | Dances with Chaos

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